So many Georgia fans were surprised on Tuesday to see quotes circulating from the Tigers’ right guard that lacked the deferential tone one might expect from a lineman preparing to face the Bulldogs’ All-America outside linebacker.
“You’ve got to be able to get your hands on him, block him,” Slade told reporters when asked about Jones. “He’s a good player, but you can stop him. It’s not that hard. You’ve just got to go out there and make the calls, go out there, execute the calls and know that he’s probably going to be on the side where the tackle will be made. He’s the type of player who will be one of the impact players.”
Of course the “You can stop him. It’s not that hard” part is the portion of the quote that made the rounds on Twitter and various blogs. But Jones simply shrugged off a question about the comment after one of the Bulldogs’ assistant coaches first brought it up to him during Tuesday’s practice.
“He was like, ‘Yeah, you can be blocked, you can be blocked.’ And I was like, ‘What you talking about?’ ” Jones laughed. “And he said, ‘That’s what they were talking about in the paper.’ But I’m not the kind for jaw jacking.”
Entering Saturday night’s matchup between No. 5 Georgia (8-1, 6-1 SEC) and Auburn (2-7, 0-6), some teams have been able to limit Jones’ effectiveness, but the list of opponents who have been successful in that endeavor is not particularly lengthy. The junior has a sack in five of the seven games in which he has appeared this season and has at least half a tackle for a loss in all seven.
Jones has 52 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 15 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles thus far, placing him first nationally in TFLs per game (2.14) and forced fumbles per game (0.71) and fifth in sacks per game (1.21).
His record speaks for itself after also leading the SEC in sacks (13.5) and TFLs (19.5) a season ago, so Jones has no need to defend himself too strenuously against Slade’s observations.
“What time do we play, 6 o’clock Auburn time?” he asked. “That’s when I do my jaw jacking. I’m not into that. I just go out there with my squad and we execute and we make plays, so that’s what I’m looking forward to doing.”
Auburn’s recent history does not bode well for stopping Jones either. The Tigers have allowed the most sacks (29) of any SEC team and rank 116th nationally by surrendering 3.22 per game.
And that vulnerability certainly has Georgia’s pass rushers licking their chops after they totaled nine sacks in the last two games alone.
“They should be, especially when you’ve got a guy like J.J.,” linebacker Amarlo Herrera said. “It don’t matter if you’re blocking good or not.”